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A monthly blog by Rev. Dr George J. Koch, Holy Trinity’s Intentional Interim Pastor during our time of transition. Pastor Koch will provide spiritual leadership for Holy Trinity until the new regularly called Pastor takes office. In his weekly blog, Pastor Koch will discuss his thoughts on the Church Year and upcoming events at Holy Trinity.
The Twelve Days of Christmas (from December 25 to January 5) is the shortest season of the church year. Even adding Christmas Eve and Epiphany Day, gives us a scant two week to celebrate the Birth of Jesus, the Christ.
This year, especially, we literally compress the first thirty years of Jesus’s life into one week, from the celebration of his naming (and circumcision) on January 1st, to the visit from the first Gentiles -- international visitors called Magi -- on January 6th to his Baptism in the River Jordan on January 8th. It reminds me of what they used to say about driving through a small town: Don’t blink, you’ll miss it!
It is only in the gospels of Matthew and Luke that we get the narratives regarding Jesus’ birth: John, for example, reaches back to the beginning of time but not to the birth; Mark begins with Jesus’ baptism, period. The bulk of the four gospels focus on Jesus’ ministry. And the largest single part of each of the four gospels focuses on Jesus’ final week – Holy Week (the gospel of John devotes 40% of the gospel to the eight days from Palm Sunday to Easter.)
It’s not that the early Christians were disinterested in the early life of Jesus. As a matter of fact, many stories circulated about the miraculous youth Jesus who, for example, could make clay birds that would spring to life and fly away. But the gospel’s focus – the focus of the Good News – has always been about God’s saving activity for all people. The story of Jesus – the “truncated” life story of Jesus -- is all about his life work, a life work that mirrors the name given to him at birth, Jesus, which means “God Saves.” And this salvation story is not just for the Jewish people of his time or the Greeks and Romans who populated the known world of that time (plus the unnamed multitudes of tribes and clans that were made slaves by the Greeks and Romans), but all people, even to this day. “For unto you a child is born,” the angels say to the shepherds – and us.
The season of Epiphany is upon us, a season in which people discover who Jesus is – for them. They discover that his work of salvation is for them. And because we hear the stories about how Jesus is a savior for them, we can have confidence that Jesus is also a savior for us.
From John the Baptist’s proclamations, to the call of the first disciples, to the thousands gathered on the mountain to hear the “Sermon on the Mount,” the Gospel stories we hear this January are stories for us about God’s power and might shown through Jesus. Take advantage of the services offered this month. Listen to the proclamation of great joy to unsuspecting people. And take this story to yourself. For in a Truncated Life, God has come to you, and offers you salvation!
Blessing on you in 2017!
Pastor George Koch
Intentional Interim Senior Pastor